Per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Clippers are going to sign forward Justise Winslow to a two year deal.
Winslow is 25 years old and heading into his 7th NBA season after five years in Miami and one in Memphis, and has career averages of 8.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 0.9 steals over 27.5 minutes per game. Not bad. The downside comes in his shooting splits: 41.1% overall (45.5% on twos), 32.4% on threes (on just 2.4 attempts), and 64% from the line (on 1.7 attempts).
The contract details haven’t been released yet, but it seems likely that the Clippers will be using their taxpayer midlevel exception (starting at $5.9M) on Winslow. Sources from multiple teams have told me he was looking for around $5M, which would fit the Clippers’ TPMLE deal. It is possible that he’s only using part of the exception, or is on a minimum, but not likely.
Those numbers unfortunately sum up Winslow’s offensive game pretty well. While he’s a very capable playmaker from the wing/forward positions, and a solid ball-handler as well, he’s not an efficient scorer from anywhere on the court. Despite his 6’6, 225 pound frame he’s not a good scorer around the rim, nor does he get there frequently. His inability to get to the cup is limited by his poor three-point shooting, which allows teams to play off him.
Now, Winslow has shown flashes on offense. In the 2019 season, he shot 37.5% on threes on 3.9 attempts per game – or on 256 total. Not an amazing sample size, but not bad either. Unfortunately, those numbers do look like a blip compared to his career averages, and there shouldn’t be too much hope for him returning to those numbers any time soon.
Winslow’s main draw is defensively, where he possesses size, length, strength, and quickness, and can successfully guard multiple positions on the court. He has the physical force to body bigger forwards (even smaller centers), but the speed to hang with smaller guards on the perimeter. That makes him a highly useful defender, though he isn’t particularly exceptional on that end – more good and versatile than excellent.
One of Winslow’s biggest issues has been health. He has played just 37 games over the last two seasons because of a troublesome hip (though he was also benched in Memphis due to poor play), and had shoulder surgery in 2017 that limited him to just 18 games. Even in two of his healthier seasons he’s missed 14 and 16 games. Really, his only clean-ish bill of health was his rookie year, when he played in 78 games.
More worryingly, those injuries, especially the hip, have limited his athleticism, particularly the flexibility and lateral quickness that made him such a promising defender. Even if he is able to stay on the court, there’s good reason to think he won’t be quite the same defender he was early in his career, when he looked like he was going to be an All-Defense level player in his prime.
In terms of fit on the roster, Winslow appears to be slotting into the backup small forward role, joining a reserve unit of Pat Beverley, Luke Kennard, Nic Batum, and Serge Ibaka. As all of those guys can shoot, Winslow’s shooting deficiencies can hopefully be masked somewhat.
As a flier on a young-ish player with some upside, the Clippers deciding to sign Winslow with (presumably) their taxpayer mid level exception isn’t an awful move. There aren’t many other options available, to be honest, and most of the remainder do not have Winslow’s pedigree. However, he was simply dreadful last year for the Grizzlies, and there’s at least a good chance he’s just as unplayable for the Clips. This also does mean that Keon Johnson, the Clippers’ 1st round pick, will likely not have a chance at the rotation barring multiple injuries.
What do you think of the Clippers’ move to sign Justise Winslow? Let us know in the comments below!